Strengthening your Thigh Muscles II
To locate these muscles place your hands on the right and left sides of your body where your legs are attached. Your hands are covering the muscles we will target. If you do not know exactly where to put your hands lift your leg sideways. You are looking for the place just above a border between your body and your moving leg.
  • Standing Leg Lifting - Stand by the wall or a piece of tall furniture and use it for support. Engage the muscles in your left leg and put all of your weight on it. Lift your right leg sideways. Your body and your leg should create about 45 degree angle. Keep the leg straight and make sure your toe is pointing forward. Do not rotate your leg in any direction. Bring it down. Lift and lower the leg in a controlled fashion, be careful not to create a momentum in the movement of your leg.
    Repeat 10 times with each leg and do 2-3 series, resting in between.
  • Leg Lifting on the Floor - Lay down on the floor, on your left side. Prop yourself up on the elbow. Bend your left knee to create a 90 degree angle in your leg, and at the same time bend your left thigh to create a 90 degree angle with your body. Keep your right leg straight, toe pointing forward and start lifting the right leg up and down, slowly, in a controlled fashion. Do not lift your leg very high. About 20 degrees from the floor is enough. Lower your leg all the way down to the floor, or as much as your muscles let you.
    Repeat 10 times with each leg and do 2-3 series, resting in between.
    Variant: You can bend the leg you are lifting and keep it bent during the entire exercise.
Hip adductors are necessary to create stability in your thighs and to be able to direct your horse. They are not for gripping your saddle!
  • Squeezing the Ball - You will need a physioball for this exercise. Sit on the edge of a hard chair. Place the ball on the floor between your thighs. Squeeze it with your thighs. Relax your thighs and let the ball regain its shape.
    Repeat 10 times and do 2-3 series, resting in between.
    Variant: You can sit right on the floor with your knees bent and place the ball between your legs.
  • Leg Lifting on the Floor - Lay down on the floor, on your left side. Prop yourself up on the elbow. Bend your right knee to create a 90 degree angle in your leg and at the same time bend your thigh to create a 90 degree angle with your body. Keep your left leg straight, toe pointing forward and start lifting the left leg up and down, slowly, in a controlled fashion. Do not lift very high. 10-20 degrees from the floor is enough.
    Repeat 10 times on each leg and do 2-3 series, resting in between.
  • The Ball Lift - You will need a physioball for this exercise. Lay down on your back. Bend your knees. Place the ball on the floor between your legs. Squeeze it slightly with your thighs. Create an abdominal push. Exhale and start to peel your buttocks off the floor by using your abdominal muscles. Then peel your spine off too. If you are flexible enough you can bring the ball all the way to your head. If you can lift your buttocks only be satisfied with that. When your abdominal strength and your flexibility increases you will be able to go further. Inhale and slowly lower the ball.
    Repeat 5 times and do 2-3 series, resting in between.
    Make sure your lower spine stays flat at the initial phase of the lift and in the last moment of lowering the ball. If you create a strong abdominal push it will.
    This exercise combines a workout for adductors and lower abdominal muscles. Plus it stretches your spine.
  • To locate these muscles place your hands on the front of your hips.
    • Standing Isometric Rotation - Stand on a non-slippery surface (carpet works fine) with your legs slightly wider then shoulder width, feet parallel to each other, and toes pointing forward. Put your hands on the front of your hips. Without actually moving your legs try to rotate them inward. Try to rotate the whole leg as a unit from the hip. Your heels should press down and outward. You will feel muscle tension under your hands.
      Hold this tension for 30 seconds, then relax. Do 2-3 series, resting in between.
    • Leg Rotation on the Floor - Lay down on the floor, on your left side. Prop yourself up on the left elbow. Bend your knees to create a 90 degree angle in your legs. Lift your right leg into the air, not much, about 10-20 degrees. Your right calf should be parallel to the floor. Start rotating your thigh inward, slowly, in a controlled fashion. Your thigh and your knee should not change their position in the air, they only rotate in place. However, your calf and your foot will move up. You will not be able to rotate a lot. Even if you have very strong hip rotators and very flexible hips, you will not be able to lift your calf more than 45 degrees. Rotate back to the starting position. This exercise works not only the rotators, but the abductors too. To intensify the workout, wear ankle weights or heavy shoes.
      Repeat 5-10 times with each leg and do 2-3 series, resting in between.
    Always finish the work out with stretching exercises. The Hip Flexibility page provides a good variety to chose from.
    Irina Yastrebova, Riding Instructor and Trainer.
    My blog is about teaching, riding and training. I share what is important to me in my work with horses and riders. The writing helps me to think things over and have a better understanding of training ideas and priciples.
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